How to Pick a Dental Hygienist College near Bethel Alaska
Picking the right dental hygienist college near Bethel AK is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Bethel AK practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Bethel AK dental practice and can undertake a variety of tasks. Their primary job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Bethel AK area community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in Bethel AK area community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist school can be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Bethel AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Once you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can start the process of comparing Alaska schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Bethel AK area schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Bethel AK typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited Alaska programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the Alaska school you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Bethel AK dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the Bethel AK school you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Bethel AK dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygiene programs need help landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Bethel AK dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Alaska schools you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Bethel AK.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near your Bethel AK home at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Dental Hygienist?When preparing to interview for a Dental Hygienist position, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. Among the things that recruiters often ask Dental Hygienist candidates is "What drove you to select Hygiene as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not just the private reasons you might have for becoming a Dental Hygienist, but also what qualities and abilities you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to Hygiene, in addition to a significant number of typical interview questions, so you need to organize some strategies about how you want to answer them. Given that there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an excellent Dental Hygienist and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down some concepts and topics that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
Select the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Bethel AK
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Bethel AK.
A Bit About Bethel Alaska
Bethel (Mamterilleq in Central Alaskan Yup'ik) is the largest community on the Kuskokwim river, located approximately 50 mi (80 km) upriver from where the river flows into Kuskokwim Bay. Bethel is the largest community in western Alaska and in the Unorganized Borough, as well as the 9th largest in the state, with a population of 6,080 as of the 2010 Census. Bethel is home to the lone detention center in southwestern Alaska, the Yukon Kuskokwim Correction Center.
Annual events in Bethel include a noted dogsled race, the Kuskokwim 300, Camai, a traditional Yup'ik dance festival held each spring, and the Bethel Fair held in August.
Southwestern Alaska was the traditional place of Yup'ik people and their ancestors for thousands of years. They called their village Mamterillermiut, meaning "Smokehouse People", after their nearby fish smokehouse. It was an Alaska Commercial Company trading post during the late 19th century, and had a population of 41 people in the 1880 U.S. Census.
In 1885, the Moravian Church established a mission in the area under the leadership of Rev. William Weinland and Caroline (born Yost)  and John Henry Kilbuck, Jr., a Lenape, and his wife Edith, a daughter and granddaughter of Moravian missionaries in Kansas. They both learned Yup'ik, which greatly enhanced their effectiveness as missionaries. He made Yup'ik the language of the Moravian Church in the community and region, and helped translate scripture into the people's language. The missionaries moved Bethel from Mamterillermiut to its present location on the west side of the Kuskokwim River. A United States post office was opened in 1905.
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